The Nizkor Project: Remembering the Holocaust (Shoah)

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Last-Modified: 1999/12/10

                                                  [Page 210]

EIGHTY-FIFTH DAYTUESDAY, 19TH MARCH, 1946DR. STAHMER
(counsel for defendant Goering): With the permission of the
Tribunal, I shall call as witness the civil engineer, Birger
Dahlerus of Stockholm.

(BIRGER DAHLERUS, a witness, took the stand.)

THE PRESIDENT:

Q. Will you state your name?

A. Birger Dahlerus.

Q. Will you repeat this oath after me:
I swear by God the Almighty and Omniscient that the evidence
I shall give shall be the truth, the whole truth, and
nothing but the truth, so help me God.

(The witness repeated the oath.)

THE PRESIDENT: You may sit down if you wish.

DIRECT EXAMINATION

DR. STAHMER:

Q. Mr. Dahlerus, would you please tell the Tribunal how you,
as a private individual and a Swedish citizen, came to work
for an understanding between England and Germany?

A. I knew England very well, since I had lived there for
twelve years, and I also knew Germany very well. I had been
able to observe the First World War from both sides, as I
stayed both in Germany and in England during that time.

During a visit to England at the end of June, 1939, I
travelled around a number of cities, Birmingham, Coventry,
Manchester and London, and I found everywhere an absolute
determination that the British should tolerate no further
aggressive acts on the part of Germany.

On 2nd July I met some friends in the Constitutional Club.
We discussed the current situation and they gave a pretty
clear picture of public opinion in Great Britain. As this
summary of public opinion in Great Britain was the basis for
my discussions afterward with Goering, I therefore think it
appropriate to cite it.

  "The outline of the conclusion obtained by observation of
  conditions in Great Britain and by conversations with
  people of the country:
  
  (a) Agreement that Berchtesgaden and Czechoslovakia have
  shaken confidence. That, immediately after Berchtesgaden,
  before Czechoslovakia was possibly in the position to
  accomplish by co-operation, many things already decided
  upon by Germany.
  
  (b) Public opinion in Great Britain now extremely bitter.
  It is resolved: So far and no farther.
  (c) Great Britain from now on has obligations which did
  not exist at time of Berchtesgaden meeting.
  
  Poland and Danzig: An attack on Danzig means war with
  Poland and Britain. Great Britain will be involved
  automatically as a consequence of its obligations. Hence,
  automatically, war with Great Britain.
  (d) Great Britain does not make her strength known; this
  is not even known to the British public."

                                                  [Page 211]

Then follows Statement No. 2, about Lord Halifax's speech:

  "My personal observations indicate that England stands
  firmly behind its declarations. Lord Halifax
  underestimates England's situation, which is customary
  with the British; that is, he makes out the strength of
  Great Britain to be weaker than it actually is. Perhaps
  in Germany this is not fully realised.
  
  Point No. 3: England wants peace, but not peace at any
  price. The German people is entirely acceptable to the
  British, and there seems to be no good reason for an
  armed conflict. As previously, Germany will certainly be
  defeated again and will accomplish far less by war than
  by peaceful negotiation. England and her friends will
  likewise have to suffer much; possibly it will mean the
  end of civilisation."

Having observed that there was a disinclination in the Third
Reich to forward unfavourable reports, I felt both that it
was my duty and that it might be of great value if these
clear expressions of British opinion should be transmitted
to the highest quarters in Germany.

Q. Mr. Dahlerus, may I interrupt with a question? Were these
friends of yours Members of the British Parliament?

A. No, they were people from the business world, and if the
Tribunal desires, I can submit a list of the names.

Q. What were their names?

A. May I save time and submit the list of names to the
Tribunal?

THE PRESIDENT: Their names are not of any great importance,
are they, if they were people in the business world?

A. After having agreed with my friends on the advisability
of a trip to Germany, I left for Germany and received an
appointment with Goering for 6th July at 4 o'clock in the
afternoon, at Karinhall.

I told him what I had observed in England and strongly
emphasised the necessity of doing everything to avoid the
possibility of a war. Goering expressed doubt as to whether
these observations were perhaps an attempt by the English to
bluff. He likewise brought out that he was of the opinion
that England wanted to control developments on the
Continent.

I told him that I did not want him to accept statements of
mine, of a neutral citizen; and I suggested to him that a
meeting should be arranged where he and some other members
of the German Government could have the opportunity of
meeting British citizens who had absolute knowledge of
conditions. I suggested that such a meeting could well take
place in Sweden, possibly on the invitation of the King of
Sweden, or the Swedish Government.

On 8th July I received from Goering a reply that Hitler had
agreed to this plan, and I left for Sweden to ascertain
whether it would be possible to make such an arrangement in
Sweden.

The Swedish Government, for certain reasons, considered it
inadvisable for the Swedish King or the Swedish Government
to extend such an invitation, but they had no objections to
private persons arranging such a meeting.

Count Trola Wachmeester willingly placed his castle, Trola
Beelda, at the disposal of such a meeting. I left then, on
19th July, for London to begin the preparations.THE
PRESIDENT: Dr. Stahmer, can you not take the witness on, in
order to save time, to the actual negotiations? All these
preliminaries do not seem to the Tribunal to be very
important. Can you not take him on to the actual
negotiations?DR. STAHMER: Yes, he will come directly to the
meeting, to the preliminary meeting that took place on 7th
August at Soenke Nissen Koog.

                                                  [Page 212]

DR. STAHMER:

Q. Witness, will you tell us of the meeting. You were about
to state that on 19th July you flew to London and there on
the 20th met Lord Halifax?

A. Yes.

Q. I consider this statement very material. Would you tell
the Tribunal the details of this meeting with Lord Halifax?

A. I met Lord Halifax on 20th July; he stressed that he did
not want any members of the British Government or Parliament
to participate. However, His Majesty's Government would
await the results of the meeting with the greatest interest.
The meeting took place at Soenke Nissen Koog, in Schleswig
Holstein, near the Danish border. The house belongs to my
wife. Seven Englishmen, Goering, Bodenschatz, and Dr.
Schoettl were present.

Q. On what day was this?

A. It was on 7th August, and the meeting started at 10
o'clock. The meeting started with Goering's request to the
Englishmen to put to him any questions they desired. Then, a
long discussion took place on political developments,
particularly with reference to relations between Great
Britain and Germany. Finally, both sides came to the
question of Munich and the events after Munich. The English
representatives emphasised that the policy of aggression in
Europe would have to cease; then the question of the
Corridor and Danzig was discussed.The Englishmen made it
perfectly clear that in case Germany should try with force
to occupy a foreign territory, the British Empire, in
accordance with its obligations to Poland, would stand at
the side of Poland.

Goering indicated - on his word of honour as a statesman and
a soldier - that, although he had direction and charge of
the strongest Air Force in the world and might be tempted to
lead this Air Force into battle, he would do everything in
his power to prevent a war.The result of the meeting was
that all present agreed on the fact that it would be of the
greatest value if a meeting could be arranged as soon as
possible by representatives of England and Germany. The
conference ended late at night, but next morning the English
delegates suggested that such a conference should be
extended to include four nations, Great Britain, France,
Italy and Germany. I went to Sylt, where Goering was
staying, and he was prepared to consent, in the name of
Germany, to this modified proposal.

Q. Did English Members of Parliament participate in this
meeting?

A. No, only English businessmen.

Q. Was a full report on this visit given to Lord Halifax?

A. The English participants left Germany early on 9th
August, and immediately on their return submitted a report
to the Foreign Office.

Q. Did this meeting that was planned then materialise, or
how did the matter further develop?

A. I received a confirmation from Goering personally that
Hitler agreed to such a conference. The matter was then
discussed in London, and on 19th August a request came to me
to go to Paris, evidently to receive a reply from the
British side. Before I left, on 21st August, I was informed
that a commercial agreement had been concluded between
Russia and Germany. On the following day this was extended
to an agreement covering other political questions. On 23rd
August I was requested by Goering, who telephoned me in the
morning at 10.30, to come to Berlin, if possible, at once.

Q. Did he, during this conversation, point out the gravity
of the situation?

A. Yes. Goering stated that the situation had, in the
meantime, become very serious.

Q. When did you meet Goering then?

A. I arrived in Berlin on 24th, and saw Goering at 2 o'clock
in the afternoon.

Q. What was the subject of your discussion?

                                                  [Page 213]

A. He told me that the situation had become very serious due
to the fact that no agreement had been reached between
Poland and Germany. He asked me whether I could not go to
London and explain the situation there.

Q. Were you to point out there in particular that Germany
was prepared to come to an understanding with England?

A. Yes. Goering stated that Germany wanted to come to an
understanding with England.

Q. Then when did you leave for London?

A. The following morning, on the 25th, a Friday.

Q. Did this trip take place with Hitler's agreement?

A. That I cannot say.

Q. With whom, then, did you have a discussion in London on
the evening of 25th?

A. The important meeting took place late in the afternoon,
at 6.30, with Lord Halifax.

Q. What did Halifax tell you on this occasion?

A. He informed me that on the same day Henderson had spoken
with Hitler, and that Henderson was expected in London on
Saturday the 26th. He expressed the hope, then, that now the
official channels were open an agreement might really become
possible. He thanked me for my efforts, and assured me that
he did not think my services would be required any longer.

Q. Did you on the same evening have a telephone conversation
with Goering?

A. Yes.

Q. What was discussed?

A. At 8 o'clock in the evening I tried to reach him on the
telephone, but only after I had obtained help from the
Foreign Office was I able to establish the connection.
Goering revealed to me then that the situation had become
extremely serious and asked me to do everything in my power
to arrange a conference between representatives of England
and Germany.

Q. Did you inform Lord Halifax of this conversation?

A. Yes. Mr. Roberts, of the Foreign Office received the
exact wording of our conversation, and before midnight Lord
Halifax had the report in his hands.

Q. Did you then on the next morning, that is, on Saturday,
26th August, have another conversation with Lord Halifax?
What was the nature of this conversation?

A. I met Lord Halifax on Saturday, the 26th at 11 o'clock. I
told him that I had learned the German Government was trying
to bring about a decision with all haste. And I stressed the
importance of such an attempt in order to make it clear to
him that in such a serious situation it was necessary to
proceed with the greatest responsibility and care; I asked
him to emphasise to the German Government that the British
Government wanted an understanding.

Q. Did anyone state that Goering was the only man on the
German side who could prevent war?

A. Well, I personally had the impression that Goering was
the member of the German Government who was most probably
working for peace. I had this impression from the
conversations that I had with him.

Q. What suggestion did you make, then, to Lord Halifax?

A. I suggested to Lord Halifax that he should write a letter
to Goering. I would go at once to Berlin and deliver it to
him personally.

Q. Was your suggestion taken?

A. Yes. Lord Halifax conferred with Chamberlain, and
afterwards wrote an excellent letter in which he indicated
in very clear and distinct words the desire of His Majesty's
Government to bring about a peaceful settlement.

Q. Did you then fly back to Berlin with this letter?

A. Yes. I arrived in Berlin in the evening and met Goering
at about 10 o'clock that same evening.

                                                  [Page 214]

Q. Describe to the Tribunal what happened during this
conversation that you had as a consequence of your talk with
Halifax.

A. I met Goering in his train which was just on the way to
headquarters. I told him how matters looked in London and
emphasised that there was no doubt that, if the German
Government proceeded against Danzig, it would immediately be
at war with England, but that I was convinced that the
German Government was prepared to do everything in its power
to avert the crisis. After I had made this explanation to
him, I handed him the letter. He tore it open, and after
having read it he placed it before me and asked me to
translate it exactly, because it was of greatest importance
that the content be understood exactly. He had his adjutant
come immediately, had the train stopped at the next station,
and declared that in his opinion Hitler must be informed
immediately of the content of this letter. I followed him in
a car to Berlin, and exactly at 12 o'clock midnight we
arrived at the Reich Chancellery. Goering went in
immediately to talk with Hitler, and I went to my hotel.

Q. That was then on 26th August, in the night-or early in
the morning on 27th August.

A. Yes.

Q. Did you then have a further conversation with Hitler?

A. I was visited by two officers at a quarter past twelve,
midnight, who requested me to go with them immediately to
Hitler. I was received by him immediately upon my arrival.
He was alone with Goering.


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